Drs. Thomas J. Rolfes, Christina T. Do, Timothy, and J. Rolfes of Smiles4OC in Costa Mesa, California, want your child to experience regular and unimpeded growth and development. However, this development can be disrupted when young children have a lip or tongue tie. Our office proudly offers frenectomy procedures to help with both lip and tongue tie concerns.
Is Your Child Suffering from a Lip or Tongue Tie?
Tongue and lip ties can be severe conditions among infants that, when left untreated, can lead to several oral and overall well-being risks. The frenulum is a small piece of skin that connects two parts of the human body, so they are not entirely separated. There are three common frenulum types in the human mouth, including:
- Lingual Frenulum: Located under the tongue
- Labial Superior Frenulum: Located at the top of the mouth, centered under the lip and attached to the gum
- Labial Inferior Frenulum: Located inside the lower lip to the gum
Infants who have suffered from a frenulum that is too thick or tight could have trouble latching onto their mother’s breast for feeding (which could lead to malnutrition) and face problems with speech development. Health problems due to untreated tongue and lip ties can often extend into adulthood. A lip tie is an issue with the frenulum on the upper lip, which restricts lip movement and could lead to a lack of vacuum seal, while a tongue tie is an issue with the lower frenulum that can cause a lack of adequate suckling.
Schedule a Frenectomy
A frenectomy is a procedure to reduce the tightness or thickness of a child’s frenulum so that more freedom of movement is possible and future harm can be avoided. If you are worried about your child’s ability to properly latch on for feeding (which can lead to malnutrition) and are seeing speech development issues due to an inability to properly move their lips or tongue, then a frenectomy may be the answer to their problem.
Visiting our team at Smile4OC Dentistry for an examination will allow our team to determine if there is a concern with your child’s frenulum. We utilize WaterLase laser technology, making frenectomies a more comfortable experience with no need for sutures and downtime.
Additionally, this laser technology results in no scar tissue and a decreased chance of re-attachment after the procedure. A WaterLase laser frenectomy uses cool water during the procedure, ensuring virtually zero bleeding or risk of infection. The best thing for infants is that healing is instantaneous, and the procedure time is very quick.
Benefits of a Frenectomy
When your child needs a frenectomy, they will reap several benefits, including:
- Improved latch during breastfeeding
- Improved speech articulation
- Improved speech sounds
- Improved airway for normal, regulated breathing
When you and your child arrive, we will ask that a medical history be completed, including a form containing signs and symptoms related to tethered oral issues you may not have realized are related. One of our doctors will sit down with you so that you understand any paperwork you have completed and help you know what a tongue or lip tie is and how it could be affecting your child.
An examination will be performed using light finger pressure, during which your doctor will monitor tongue and lip movement. During this quick examination, your child can remain in their carrier or infant car seat. Once this examination is complete, your doctor will inform you of their findings and provide their recommendation. If laser treatment is recommended and you agree, consent forms will be reviewed and signed after the procedure has fully been explained to you.
Your child will remain comfortably in their car seat. Eye coverings will be placed on your child to protect their eyes. The procedure is completed using our WaterLase laser. We recommend seeing a lactation consultant within 48-72 hours after release to help start your new breastfeeding journey.
For post-op care, the most crucial part will consist of stretching, making sure there is common usage. Please have your child continue to use the tongue and lip for continuous mobility. Depending on the stage of release, there may be special instructions on exercises provided to you by your doctor. This will vary by patient. You can expect some fussiness and potential discomfort for the first few days (also dependent on the release stage). You can utilize infant Tylenol for pain management.
We will conduct a 1-week post-op exam to ensure tissues are still released and not reattaching. Myofunctional therapy, baby chiropractor, and bodywork are all highly recommended to provide the most remarkable results for severe ties and thicker fibers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Tongue and Lip Ties
To schedule an appointment with one of our dentists, please call or text (714) 557-0700.